What Are the Stages of Leukemia?

Staging is the term oncologists use to define the extent of the cancer. Leukemia is typically not staged numerically (0 through IV) with the exception of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Most cancer teams use the Rai system to stage CLL. This system comprises five stages, from 0 to IV (4), based on the number of lymphocytes red blood cells and platelets in the blood. The lower the number, the more normal the distribution of blood cells. A higher number means that the distribution is quite irregular and the leukemia is high-risk.

For other types of leukemia, the designations acute (worsens quickly) or chronic (worsens gradually) can indicate the seriousness of the disease. Other factors, such as blood counts, general health and cytogenetics can also help physicians determine treatment options.

Be sure to talk to your physician about your particular stage of cancer and how that will impact your treatment.

For more information about the stages of leukemia, please visit our Health Library.